Debbie Allen (Debbie Allen Dance Academy)


Diede de Groot (U.S. Open)


Leah Lang (Architecture Media)


Prativa Mohapatra (ETtech)

Firsts for Women: September 2021

Zonta International celebrates "firsts for women" in all different sectors in countries and communities around the world.

Looking back on last month, we acknowledge the following women:

  • Nimaben Acharya – first woman to be elected speaker of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly in India.
  • Debbie Allen – first Black woman to receive the Emmys Governors Award.
  • Elizabeth Beisel – first woman to swim the 10.4-mile route from mainland Rhode Islandto Block Island.
  • Jill Biden – first U.S. first lady to work a full-time job outside of the White House.
  • Col. Leah Botona Boling – first woman and first person of color to serve as director of the Air National Guard Chaplain Corps.
  • Caroline Buchanan – first woman to land a front flip on a mountain bike.
  • Lisa Byington – first woman hired as a full-time TV play-by-play announcer for a major men's professional sports team.
  • Vallerie Castillo-Archer – first woman executive chef at Yamashiro, a historic restaurant in Los Angeles.
  • Maia Chaka – first Black woman to officiate an NFL game.
  • Michaela Coel – first Black woman to win an Emmy for Limited Series Writing.
  • Taylor Collins – first woman to win the South Florida PGA Professional Championship.
  • Capt. Shaina Coss – first woman to lead elite Army Rangers in combat.
  • Sara Cox – first woman to referee a match in the Premiership Rugby
  • Dr. Patricia Bath and Marian Croak – first Black women to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
  • Kristie Elliot – first woman in Canada to be offered a scholarship for American football.
  • Ellen Fokkema – first woman to play for a senior men's team in a Dutch Football Association match.
  • Franziska Giffey – first woman elected as mayor in Berlin.
  • Maria-Elena Giner – first Hispanic woman to serve as the United States Commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission.
  • Diede de Groot – first woman to achieve a Golden Slam in wheelchair tennis, which consists of winning all four major singles titles and the Paralympic gold medal in the same season.
  • Shefali Juneja – first woman chairperson of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Aviation Security Committee.
  • Siu Ling Ko – first woman and first Asian to lead subway car maintenance as vice president and chief mechanical officer of subway car equipment with New York City Transit.
  • Leah Lang – first woman appointed as the Queensland government architect.
  • Ashley Lynn – first woman in charge of player engagement for an NFL team.
  • Marianne Markowitz – first CEO of First Women's Bank, the first U.S. bank founded, owned and led by women.
  • Shivani Meena – first woman excavation engineer to work in an open cast mine in India.
  • Liz Mills – first woman to coach a team at a men's continental championship when she led Kenya at AfroBasket, a basketball championship that takes place in Africa every four years.
  • Prativa Mohapatra – first woman to lead Adobe India as vice president and managing director.
  • Jessica Mendoza and Melanie Newman – first all-female broadcast team for a nationally televised Major League Baseball game.
  • Lubna Olayan – first woman to head a Saudi foreign business council following her approval as president of the Saudi-Swedish Business Council by the General Authority for Foreign Trade.
  • Penney Ooi – first woman to earn prestigious executive chairperson status at World Financial Group Insurance Agency.
  • Florence Pan – first Asian American woman to serve as a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C.
  • Sian Proctor – first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft when SpaceX's Inspiration4 Mission launched.
  • Najla Bouden Romdhane – first woman to be named prime minister of Tunisia. 
  • Fallon Sherrock – first woman to reach a televised PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) Tour final at the Nordic Masters.
  • Alyson Shontell – first woman named editor in chief of Fortune.
  • Stergomena Tax – first woman to serve as Tanzania's defense and national service minister.
  • Pamela Uba – first Black woman to win Miss Ireland.
  • Elizma Visser – first woman to win Young Winemaker of the Year in the 2021 Tim Atkin South Africa Special Report.
  • Tenia Watson – first Black woman to lead daytime talk show The Real as executive producer.
  • Angela F. Williams – first Black woman to become the CEO of United Way Worldwide.

Moments we missed in August:

  • Desiree Reed-Francois – first Hispanic woman to lead a Football Bowl Subdivision program as a full-time athletic director.

As an organization that has fought for gender equality for more than 100 years, Zonta International believes it is important to celebrate and honor women who are making history. Each month, we will recognize women who have broken the glass ceiling and set an example for future generations to come.

Do you know of a first for women moment that should be recognized? Share with us at pr@zonta.org.

1 OCTOBER 2021